Telesat is building a US$5 billion global satellite network to provide enterprises with fiber-like Internet. Canadian satellite operator Telesat announced that French-Italian aerospace manufacturer Thales Alenia Space will build its next-generation broadband satellite network called “Lightspeed”. In industry, the network is called a “constellation”, and it will consist of 298 new-generation satellites that orbit the earth at an altitude of approximately 1,000 kilometers.


  • Lightspeed will be committed to bringing high-speed fiber-optic like Internet to Telesat customers around the world.
  • The company focuses primarily on corporate customers and estimates that its Lightspeed will cost $5 billion.
  • Canadian satellite operator Telesat on Tuesday, 29th February 2021 had announced that Thales Alenia Space will build its next-generation broadband satellite network called Lightspeed.

What is Global Satellite Network Access?

The Internet access that is provided by the satellite network is called Global Satellite Network Access. Individual users are provided by satellite internet access through geostationary satellites and this service is provided by modern consumer-grade satellite internet, which can serve relatively high data speeds.

The newly launched satellites use the Ku band, which can achieve download speeds up to 506 Mb/s. And in addition, these networks are being developed for low-latency internet access from space, that so why it is being developed in the low earth orbit.

A global network is a type of communication network that covers the entire earth. The terms used in the narrow sense of this article refer to two-way communication networks and technology-based networks. Just like radio and television, they are also introduced in other places.

Telesat’s Discussion

Canadian telecommunications satellite operator Telesat proclaimed that French-Italian space hardware manufacturer astronomer Alenia space can build its next-generation broadband satellite network referred to as Lightspeed.

Lightspeed will be committed to bringing high-speed fiber-optic Internet to Telesat customers around the world. In the industry, this network is called a “constellation”, and it will consist of 298 new-generation satellites that orbit the earth about 1,000 kilometers. Or more than twice the height of the International Space Station.

In an interview, Telesat said that “They are not a start-up. This is not a new business for them. They have the same old customers and the same old market, but the structure is more complex and more disruptive.”

Also Read: DARPA selects General Atomics, Blue Origin, and Lockheed Martin to Test Nuclear Propulsion on Low-Earth Orbit

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Telesat’s Goal

The company is mainly aimed at corporate customers. The cost of the Lightspeed constellation is estimated to be US$5 billion, which includes the cost of satellites, purchase of rocket launches, construction of ground infrastructure, and development of platforms.

Goldberg said that since Thales Alenia Aerospace’s contract is worth about $3 billion, they account for the majority of this amount.

In particular, Goldberg made it clear that the Telesat Lightspeed constellation should not compete with SpaceX’s Starlink or Amazon’s Kuiper direct consumer network.

Telesat Lightspeed

In an interview, Goldberg said that “This is not a broadband game for consumers. Today, they have become one of the world’s largest satellite operators and have been doing this for 50 years. But they have always been a company service. And they know their customer base, they know these markets. They worked with these customers when considering this possibility and designing this constellation.”

  • “Customers of Telesat Lightspeed include cruise ships, airlines, and rural communities. The main customer of the network will be the Canadian government, which has promised to use Lightspeed to create a capacity library to sell to rural communities and broadband providers at very attractive prices.”
  • “One of the main technologies used by Telesat satellites is the Inter-Satellite links, which allows the satellites to communicate with each other without having to be individually connected to points on the ground.”
  • “In addition, they have also implemented a large-scale IP network through the space network. This means that all their satellites are always online, which generates revenue and can be connected to all users.”
  • “They have used the space for 50 years and are a responsible user of industrial space. They are very careful to ensure that there are no such negative externalities.”

Telesat plans to launch the first Lightspeed in 2023. The first satellite will be launched by Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin on his New Glenn rocket. Goldberg said that he is closely following the development of New Glenn because New Glenn’s first rocket launch is scheduled for next year. However, he is confident that when Telesat goes public within two years, he will be ready. Telesat will also announce other launch service providers in the coming months.

The Lightspeed program is expected to bring $1.8 billion of investment into the Québec aerospace sector, creating 600 new highly-skilled, high-paying jobs and billions of dollars in economic growth.

“We are very pleased to be moving forward with Thales Alenia Space on Lightspeed, the most advanced and capable LEO network in the world,” stated Dan Goldberg, President, and CEO of Telesat. “As the world’s leader in manufacturing and implementing cutting edge global satellite constellations, Thales Alenia Space is the right industrial partner to deliver Lightspeed, a fully integrated global communications network that will revolutionize satellite-delivered broadband and give Telesat and its customers a decisive competitive edge in this high growth market.”

Goldberg added: “The name Lightspeed underscores the essential speed advantages inherent to Telesat’s LEO design. Lightspeed is the most technologically capable satellite communications network in history and exploits the latest advances in space-based data processing, laser communications, digital antenna technology and machine learning.”

LightSpeed Infographic
Lightspeed Infographic: Image Telesat

Lightspeed will provide fiber-like connectivity across the entire Earth at price points that allow network operators to efficiently and economically enhance their network coverage, performance, and profitability. Designed with a deep understanding of the bandwidth-intensive applications and cloud-based network connectivity that users require, Lightspeed will eliminate the hurdles that telecommunications service providers face today when incorporating satellites into their networks.

Communication between satellites is very essential to reduce the number of points on the earth that the satellite constellation must connect, and this will increase the overall speed of the global satellite network.

Telesat plans to “deploy about 30 ground stations around the world because they don’t need that many, which will help minimize capital and land costs.”, which is according to Goldberg.

Telesat satellite network

Operating roughly just 1,000 kilometers above Earth in LEO, Lightspeed will be free from the long latency delays and capacity limitations that are inherent to satellites in geostationary and medium Earth orbits. In addition, Lightspeed satellites incorporate leading-edge technologies and features, including:

  • Sophisticated phased array antennas on each satellite that are combined with advanced beam hopping technology to create approximately 135,000 beams that can dynamically focus multiple Gbps of capacity – an order of magnitude higher than any other system – into demand hot spots like remote communities, large airports or major seaports;
  • Nearly 1,200 high-capacity optical links – four on each satellite – that combine to create a first-ever, highly resilient, flexible and secure space-based IP network, moving data across the network and around the world at the speed of light;
  • Data processing in space, including full digital modulation and  demodulation on the satellite, coupled with a revolutionary end-to-end network operating system, that improves link performance and gives customers unprecedented flexibility for routing traffic across the globe, eliminating gateway hops for the fastest, most secure, end-to-end delivery of data; and
  • A patent-pending architecture for the constellation of satellites, which features satellites operating in both polar and inclined orbital planes. This results in true pole-to-pole global coverage, concentrating capacity in areas where it is most needed to maximize network efficiency and achieve superior unit cost economics.

Telesat is developing affordable end-user terminals, with a range of antennas and modems optimized for each of the market verticals Lightspeed will serve. In addition, Lightspeed leverages industry-wide network interface standards to enable simple, seamless integration with customers’ terrestrial networks, without the need to integrate proprietary hardware or software.

After Starlink SpaceX was strongly protested by astronomers, Telesat is also working to reduce the reflectivity of its Lightspeed satellites, because the astronomers concerned strongly protested against its hundreds of satellites. These telescopes look like bright streaks in telescopic images. It is twice as tall as the Starlink satellite, but at the same time, it is more in the general constellation. The service life of each Telesat Lightspeed satellite can also reach 10 to 12 years, so the company does not have to replace them frequently.

As a responsible owner and operator of space assets for nearly 50 years, Telesat has designed and will operate the Lightspeed satellites in a manner that ensures that LEO orbits are safely available for other users and that the night sky is safeguarded for astronomical observation.

About Telesat

Telesat is a Canadian satellite communications company and headquartered in Ottawa. And it is founded on May 2, 1969. The company is currently the world’s fourth-largest provider of fixed satellite communications. It has a set of satellites, others are under construction, and different organizations are using other satellites.

Telesat broadcasts signals from two major Canadian DBS providers – Bell Satellite TV and Shaw. Direct and more than 200 Canadian TV channels; Telesat’s Anik F2 has a Ka-band spot beam payload, which can provide satellite Internet access for Wildblue users in the United States and Xplornet users in Canada. Bandwidth problems occur when connecting multiple satellite earth stations connected to the Internet.

About SpaceX

Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) is an American aerospace and Transportation Company headquartered in Hawthorne, California. SpaceX was founded by Elon Musk in 2002 to reduce the cost of space transportation and Mars colonization. Vehicles that are launch by SpaceX – Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy launch vehicles, various rocket engines, kite cargo, manned spacecraft, and Starlink communications satellites.

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